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Montréal is a lovely tourist destination. Europeans find it North American and Americans find it a quick European-like getaway where Montréal's blend of bon vivant French culture, fantastic restaurants, quirky and artistic appreciation of weirdness, and its multicultural and multilingual sophistication is simply part of its unique charm. Plus, the drinking age is 18 and last call is 3 a.m. (lower and later than many of its neighbours), and indeed a long history as being a fun (and naughty) city, has made it a favourite destination for years.
Montréal has beautiful neighbourhoods and a range of architectural styles, such as Italianate or the Second Empire, among many others, and Montréal freely accepts artistic fresco paintings on exterior walls and indeed has public art everywhere. It was also a fair-sized city before the car was invented, making it very walkable and well put-together, with tree-lined streets for shade, street furniture and little parks and sidewalk cafés for taking a break, well-connected shopping streets, and an excellent transit system that all make it easy to explore. Compared to most cities in the world, Montréal is a standout for cleanliness, with regular street washing and people sweeping the streets in popular areas and vacuum carts removing litter all day. While it is true you might see some urban grittiness and panhandlers in Montréal, especially since the "bad" part of town is sandwiched between other areas of interest to a tourist, it remains a very safe city, safer than U.S. cities of comparable (and smaller) size. As with any city, street smarts still apply, and don't leave your belongings unattended and lock your car and don't leave anything of value in view.
Montréal is also an easy city to visit with the highest number of bilingual (and indeed, trilingual) people in Canada, meaning you won't need your dictionary unless you're well off the beaten path. Traditionally, Montréal has been French in the east and English in the west, although the lines are blurred now.
Montréal is famous for many things, from Montréal-style bagels and smoked meat, tam tams on the mountain, an extensive system of underground passageways, many festivals including the Just for Laughs and the International Jazz Festival and a weekly fireworks competition in summer, and the Cirque du Soleil. It is also a city of learning, with more university students per capita than even Boston.
Tourists come to Montréal in La Belle Province (Quebec) to escape their usual routine. Tourists are from the U.S., elsewhere in Canada, from Europe or are other world globetrotters, Montréal is truly unique in North America. Its architecture, sense of fashion, superb cuisine and unique culture make Montréal a favoured destination.